KU’s Traylor has no hard feelings toward K-State — or really, any feelings at all
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — No hard feelings, at least where Jamari Traylor is concerned.
Actually, no darn feelings at all.
"I was just like, ‘Damn, we lost,’ and I was walking to the bench," Traylor, junior power forward at Kansas, recalled Wednesday after the No. 9 Jayhawks finished their shoot-around at Sprint Center in advance of the Big 12 men’s basketball tournament. "And (suddenly) just felt a bump."
The "bump" in question happened at Kansas State’s Bramlage Coliseum back on Feb. 23, "Stormy Monday," when a Wildcat fan in jeans and a purple top — now identified as Nathan Power — was captured in a now-infamous picture throwing an elbow into Traylor as the former stormed the court following K-State’s 70-63 victory over KU.
Power was one of thousands of Wildcat faithful who rushed down from their seats after the emotional win, overwhelming what security was assembled, pinning coaches Bruce Weber and Bill Self against the scorer’s table and interacting — in some cases, violently — with Jayhawk players, coaches and staff.
With Kansas State possibly on the docket for a rubber match Thursday afternoon in the Big 12 quarterfinals — the two rivals split their matchups during league play, each winning on their home court — Traylor was asked to reflect on the incident.
"And I just looked and he was just (brushing past me)," the 6-foot-8 Chicago native said. "And he just ran off. And I was like, ‘Hmm,’ and that’s it."
Traylor didn’t swing back, much to the relief of Self — who praised his big man for keeping a cool head while getting bum-rushed by a wave of purple — and Kansas, Kansas State and Big 12 administrators. K-State officials dropped the ball as far as getting the visiting team off the court safely, becoming a national talking point the next day across the 24-hour sports news cycle. But if a Jayhawk player had been seen retaliating, the fallout would’ve extended beyond the wagging finger of talking heads and former coaches and players among the punditry.
And the Jayhawks might not have gotten what they’ve gotten from Traylor, who’s averaged 13 points, 5.5 rebounds and 28 minutes per game over the past two contests, his role expanded because of the suspension of freshman power forward Cliff Alexander (NCAA investigation) and the health of junior power forward Perry Ellis (knee).
"That’s just what we do," Traylor said. "When guys go down, other guys got to step up. That’s just our mindset."
Meanwhile, Kansas State officers posted the picture of the student bumping Ellis on social media, crowd-sourcing the locals for information. Power came forward the next day, writing a letter of apology to the Kansas State Collegian student newspaper and being issued a notice for disorderly conduct by campus police.
"I kind of was (surprised)," Traylor said. "I was surprised people cared so much about me getting bumped.
"But it’s all right — I mean, I take, on average, probably a fall worse than that in a game anyways. So it’s all right."
More or less, anyway. Point guard Frank Mason III intimated before Wednesday evening’s Wildcats-Frogs game — the winner gets top-seeded Kansas in the second quarterfinal Thursday afternoon — that he’d like another crack at K-State, given a choice.
Self was more, um, diplomatic.
"Well, you know the thing about (us), we’re competitors," the coach offered, grinning mischievously. "And they beat us at their place last time. So whomever we play, it’s going be a tough game, because TCU gave us all we wanted. And of course, K-State gave us more than we wanted the last time we played them.
"To me, really, I really don’t have a preference — at least publicly.
"I do think that whoever we play is (probably) a team that will certainly give us everything we want and more, even if we play well. Because both of those teams are very capable."
KU proved at Oklahoma last Saturday that it’s more than capable without Ellis, who sat out the contest with the Big 12 regular-season crown already clinched. But Jayhawk fans would feel better with the junior post standout in the fold, considering he averaged 17.8 points and 8.25 boards in four matchups with K-State and TCU.
Extending the Sunflower Series another afternoon would be special for Ellis, a Wichita native. As to whether it also means a little something extra for Traylor, well ….
"Naw," Traylor replied. "I’m looking past that. So, naw. I just want to win if we go out there and play."
"If the guy (who bumped me) was suiting up for (K-State), maybe I would."